Back in the day when Moz was still SEOmoz, they opted to embark on a strategy we now know as engineering as marketing. This is essentially the process of building smaller niche products with the sole purpose of pushing its users into your main product.
In Moz’s case, they built a free tool called Open Site Explorer. This tool offered a small, but valuable amount of backlink information to its users in exchange for their contact information. It was a helpful tool at a time when most similar tools either sucked or were only available for a premium price.
Engineer a Better Way
SEOmoz knew that those using the tool would ONLY be doing so if they were looking to get their site to rank well for search engines. So little by little, the company marketed other SEOmoz products to the leads they generated through Open Site Explorer. Sure enough, those users began to convert.
Inevitably as the market landscape changed, SEOmoz became Moz, and they rolled Open Site Explorer into their main product offering. However, the strategy is still viable in many cases. Often, large brands will build “microsites” for promoting a certain offer or event. Large premium apps will build smaller utility apps or games, and then serve ads to the organic users of those apps.
In short, under certain circumstances and provided you have the resources available to do so, you might want to think about building other, smaller products that cater to the same audience you want using your main product.
Engineering as Marketing and Virality
The nice part about engineering as marketing is that it’s flexible.
Unlike blogging, there is no predefined format expected by users. Unlike advertising, there is no predefined asset format or size that you are confined to.
In other words, the possibilities are endless.
For example, let’s go back to the Moz example above. Had Moz opted to employ virality to help in their promotion of Open Site Explorer – such as providing some sort of collaborative functionality and value for inviting other team members to OSE – it’s highly likely that their lead generation strategy would have been amplified. This would have then provided Moz with more warm leads to market their paid products to. Ultimately providing more bang for their buck.
The rule of thumb here is to ensure you’re thinking about your micro-product in the same way you’d think about any product.
Focus on providing value first and foremost. This is how you get those leads to warm up and trust you. It’s also how you get those users to convert, and then stick around for months or even years afterwards.
You know what’s even better than playing with yourself?
Playing with others. (No, I’m not talking about that. Get your mind out of the gutter.)
There are plenty of non-viral marketing methods out there to fuel your viral engine, but a lot of them require you (and your company) go it alone. Which is usually how most approach business ventures, especially in the highly competitive sandbox that is the Internet. But don’t make the mistake of discounting one of the juiciest marketing channels of all – teamwork.
How Can a Little Back Scratching Skyrocket Your Viral Campaign?
We’re all in this together. Or at least we should be if we want to truly go viral. Very often your success is my success, so long as we promote our partnership the right way. So when it comes to non-viral marketing, scratch the back of others and they’ll undoubtedly scratch yours. Find out how in our next chapter.
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